There is an auto-restoration shop I drive past regularly that displays collectible cars and trucks for sale. Today I spotted this lovely International Cub Lo-Boy tractor in the prime spot on the shop’s lawn.
The series of small Cub tractors dates back to the 1940s, when they were built under the Farmall brand and painted in that company’s signature red hue. The switch to yellow came in the 1950s and this example has the flat front grille of a 1960s model.
For serious tractor collectors, this machine might as well be a 1960s Ford Mustang convertible, Pontiac GTO or Dodge Charger R/T. The value of old tractors has risen quickly in recent years and certain rare models have soared out of reach for the farmers who once made up the bulk of antique-tractor buyers.
This seems strange since the uses for tractors off the farm are limited, especially when the iron workhorses are restored to Pebble Beach Concours standards. You could drive one down the road with one of those signal-orange triangles on the back, warning other drivers that your vehicle tops out around 10 to 15 miles per hour. But that brand of fun might wear thin quickly.
Still, there is something truly appealing about old tractors. Perhaps it is their form-follows-function elegance, the many tasks they take on and the way all those moving parts hang out in the breeze. One could argue they are rolling sculpture.
For years my wife has wanted a red Farmall to park in the living room but not even the smallest models will fit through the front door.